Thursday, April 04, 2019

School Curriculum Singapore: English, Math, Science, Music, Pop Songs?

The School Bag

School days today?

My grandchildren's satchels (school bags) are heavier than their own weight and when I help to carry them, I suffer backache later.

I wish the authorities would find a solution to this problem. It is burdensome (pun intended) for these poor children with growing bones.

There is one simple solution. Have lockers in the schools where students will be allowed to keep some of their books. Or have a proper time table, where they just bring their books for that day. What we did when we were at school?

Just think of the orthopedic cases in years to come.

The Curriculum: Mathematics

School days have never been a wonderful world for me. Like many students all over, it was a chore getting up early and swallowing bread smeared with butter at 6.30 in the morning.

The whining schoolboy with his satchel 
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school...

Primary school wasn't so bad but secondary school with eight subjects to cope with, was one of the toughest hurdles for me. I hated nearly every subject, especially Mathematics, where I received five dollars from the teacher for making nasty remarks while he was writing out his silly Geometry diagrams on the board.
The five stinging finger marks left on my face after the slap taught me never to be rude to Mr. Q. again. The problems he had wasn't Q.E.D. (Quite Easily Done) for me; in fact, his explanations made them worse! But as a person, he was a good man.

The Curriculum: History

The next worst subject to be in class with was History. I love it now but with Mr. K. Junior, who taught the subject, sitting on the teacher's table and dictating his so-called lessons, made me hate it.

"Now turn to page 24. Go down with your ruler to the third paragraph. Underline them all; that's the 1824 Anglo-Dutch Treaty. Learn by heart. Next, to page 28, count from line 10 to line 20, now that's..."

On and on he went. History wasn't learning what had happened in the past, but searching for points from G. P. Dartford's A Short History of Malaya (image above) to rote-learn for the examination. 

Goodness, gracious me!!!

Only when I left the school did I realize what History really meant and what a lovely subject it was.

What a Wonderful World Sam Cooke. Many subjects that sound frightening.

The Curriculum: English Language

My English lessons were most enjoyable with another Mr. Q. in his daily outfit that consisted of a white short-sleeved shirt; white short pants; white long socks; black shoes.

"Come here!" he would call me up. "Here, I give you 8 upon 10 again for your Composition! Very good."

Sam Cooke (left) and Bill Haley with the Comets (right) from the 60s and 50s.

The Pop Songs About School Days

Handsome singer and songwriter, Sam Cooke hit the nail on the head when his song Wonderful World was released in 1960. Yes, I first heard it that long ago, one year after leaving school. 

But it wasn't schooldays that were wonderful.

Don't know much about History
Don't know much Biology...
Don't know much about a Science book
Don't know much about the French I took 

But he knew that if his girlfriend loved him, it would be a wonderful world. He carried on to confess about his ignorance for Geography, Trigonometry, Algebra, and the slide-rule. He admitted he wasn't an A student but, "he's trying to be" and hoping to win her love. Yes, who would think of Math at this age? 

Bill Haley and his Comets: ABC Boogie With lyrics. Video by: smvclc. Thank you.

Then there's this hot rock n roll classic by Bill Haley and his Comets called, A B C Boogie (1955), from their album, Rock Around The Clock. And you got to listen to this one because you don't need to leave the building to sweat yourself. No soccer, hockey, high jump or track and field because the teacher comes from Basin Street and teaches with rhythm and ease: 

There're readin', writin' and arithmetic,
Taught to the tune of a licorice stick.
No education is ever complete,
Without a boogie, boogie, boogie beat...

Hey if you're a school teacher, spend time with pop songs and look for stimulating lyrics. 😃. That's how I taught my English lessons.



Andy Young:
BILL HALEY and SAM COOKE sing two songs with CURRICULUM based lyrics. Do you know these two hit songs? Check the blog... Cute and practical. :-)

Freda Hanum
Wonderful world song... what a great memory 😊

Koh Daisy
oh yeah ...don’t know much about history, biology or of my favourites, Love that one! Did you have a list of songs with numbers ...Love Potion number 9...12 of never, 3 coins in the fountain, 1-way ticket. .7 Lonely Days ...all my favorites.

Stephen Han
We used to have a weekly timetable of the subjects we’ll be learning.The maths are entirely different from my school days and I can only manage up to my Grand-daughter ‘s Primary 3.During my school days we studied the High School English Grammar” by Wren in our secondary years, but it’s not available anymore

Andy Young
Thanks, Freda. Yes WW was featured in a Harrison Ford movie, WITNESS and revived it much. And Stephen, I think those years standard was much lower. Never forget WREN. But I think it stood us better today with English. Appreciate you both for the quick response.

Andy Young
Because Daisy is so charitable, she gave me tons of CDs and I found her BILL HALEY CD with ABC Boogie, a song so appropriate for this post. Yes, looks good for a new posting. Titles of songs with numbers in them. Thanks, dear.

Koh Sui Pang
Lucky for me my school day .. no Help !!!

FACEBOOK said...




Hi Andy
Just like you, I dreaded school. Primary school was great for me though.

Being the youngest in a family, I had the advantage of learning the ABCs from my siblings well before I started Primary One. Throughout my six years in primary school, I was in the A-Class. Guess I could qualify as an A student?

Alas, my secondary school years turned out to be like that Wonderful World song. My three siblings joined the teaching profession upon completion of the Cambridge School Certificate (Present day O_Level). With the Teachers Training College aka Teachers Torture Chambers located so close to where we were living, then, it seemed an ideal choice for them. After all, teaching's the only profession with good career prospects, no?

I had to carry my oversized school bag to and from school every day throughout primary school. I had a fairly large suitcase-looking schoolbag when I was in Primary Six. Being of small build and skinny, the schoolbag looked even larger with me carrying it.

The year was 1960 and Mr George Favacho was our English teacher at Cairnhill Primary. One day we were both on the same bus on our way to the school. I cannot remember what were his remarks to me about my school but he sure looked at me rather bemused.


Nice recollections of the good and bad Andy.
Wonder how I'll find school today if I went through it again.